On radical love

The Where

In sacred lands, stories experience growth in the memories of untamed love. It is a world revolving around a core made up of unexplainable metaphors. Wrapping themselves within the reasoning of the subjective mode. Togetherness tied in a dreamt notion of freedom written nowhere. In the merge into the intention of listening. Somewhere in the absence of invented places. In the through and through of comforting a dying dove from hunger. In the illusion of granting a hug to the person, that confines us in a line. The interference of lighting by closing our eyes in fear of pain. Recall the anchoring of torture as it slips repeatedly from the hands that feed us with hormones and pesticides while wandering off to a state of forgiveness.

My grandfather taught me the essence of teaching before I learned how to read and write as per the Western traditions. He introduced me to constellations of knowledge found in dirt, hanging threads from the plant of the corn, junctures in fires, caring for seeds, liberating energy when preparing a meal, caressing silence in times of malaria, inventing maps to lead me into the past, and widening my vision on space so that others can rest comfortably. The tools that I would later incorporate in regular classrooms as I began integrating practices of love into education. Because radical love to me is putting love into practice without the aid of mechanical learning. I am not sure if I could refer to them as pedagogies of love as they are complex derivations of teachings of life in intimate relationships to death.

Accepting radical love is a journey for life. Resisting to understanding it differently makes me sick often. If only I followed structured lesson plans, grading schemes, conceptualising reason as truth, testing intelligence, preserving the dynamics of a pyramid… If only I was persuaded to believe we are all equals… If only I obey sitting charts according to boxes… If only I treasured brains depending on their monetary worth… If only I stopped teaching how to read outside the margins… If only I saw academic production as legitimately valuable in my life … If only I fill my belly with caged birds to save a buck or two … If only I rejected my grandfather’s teachings to be replaced by theoretical notions of education found in universities …

But I, as a woman from El Salvador, living also as another settler in Turtle Island (aka Canada), crave, desire, need, and yearn condiments to powder the injustices I experienced and continue to face. Radical love originates in a thirsty well where spirits dig and dig non-stop to find the source of life. Notions of democracy invented by and for capitalist only agendas interfere with that search. The result is no-where to be found many times. In turn, I reflect on the everyday of unlearning how to find it. Colonialist legacies of uprooting leaves not much choice when facing hunger for justice positioning transformative change as a shield. Practicing radical love in this way is to realign one vertebra at a time paying sacred attention to calls for compassion. Accepting it is to descend in a place where roots extend to find other roots.

The When

I could date it back to one of my earliest memories of wanting to share the pleasure with another human of the immaculate taste of a tortilla with salt.

Tipping my toes in the quiet sleep of a pile of dry leaves just when I was thanking that stranger that held my hand when I agonised for humanity. Her ‘shhh’ drowned smoothly a sorrow making me seek tranquillity in the clouds.

The once-upon-a-time a village brought to crumbles by violence only to rebirth without an attached certificate.

In the untamed me, in the unmasked we, in the untold you.

It takes refuge in a moonlight hidden because it chooses to.

At dawn, when birds capture the currents of a star transcending space and time.

When grief-stricken hate strikes your face, my grandfather would say, both sides of the face turn to alert mode. Humanity knocking to the nerves as they prepare to unleash what the soul is about.

The How

Quietness running back and forth to the pores of life.

Weaving with the touch of cool air in an uncharted desert.

Leashing tentacles of poetic symbols against a willing grain of salt somewhere in the ocean.

Creation making love to creation until meaning turns a page in the book of fate.

Belief after belief. Ascending after descending. Flying in Open Cages appearing only in translated nightmares. Naked blood flooding naked blood. Crashing and crashing boxes of tinted windows made by/for the grace of Writing. Tasting the fragility in our own bones.

INSTRUCTION: Do not obstruct!

Instruction reminds me of wooden rules. The ones altering the memory of the palm of your hands as they inscribe who is in charge of your mistakes.

First step is to find the Ruler.

Second step is to monitor if the check mark is ON.

To select the best view of the ruler, one must assign a vertical layout.

Horizontal rulers are to create perfect lines.

As the inscriber, you have to stay within it. Anything else will be destroyed.

Measure the length of the following words providing the correct answer (Errors will be recorded):

Success, Education, Intelligence, Security, Settlement, Development, Consumption


| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀|׀ | ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀| ׀|׀  

0        10         20         30         40          50         60         70         80         90         100




The Why

‘Cause there is no other way around to tick-tick-tick the core within the core.

‘Cause the remains of the wandering absent father are more than the re in the mains.

‘Cause the opposite of doubt is not certainty in the paved roads of development.

‘Cause what happened in the New World Order does not stay there.

‘Cause colour interrelates and intensifies in relation to fluidity.

‘Cause yellow ritualised itself in the voice of ash and dust.

‘Cause orange involves the continuity of cross-pollination.

‘Cause red does not equal passion.

‘Cause brown equals everlasting magic.

‘Cause black pairs with the consciousness of humanity.

WARNING: In case of an emergency AND when structures kick in …

Disorient with yarn!

The Who

Within the sanctuary lies the fortune of the self. She is the subjectivity of a hanging question at the end of stories. A weightless figure existing in the possibilities of forever after. She bounces between the he, the they, the I, the we. He happens to be outside of the colour scheme. They happen to locate the unknown inside the female. The I colours all the boxes with imagined odds of identities. All vacuumed under circumstances that escape the highest tribunals ever made up.

She, he, they, I, we:
1. Write(s), invent(s), fuck(s) around, situate(s) the destruction of axis,
2. Genderise(s) as if, rejoice(s) in one exhale, flavours rainbows, hold(s) ‘…’
3. Reveal the void, pass on the voyage, capture distress in motion, bid for life,
4. Whole, imperfect, perfect, whole again,
5. adore the she, the he, the they, the I, the us.

My grandmother’s mother was N.E.C.E.S.S.I.T.Y.

Neither. Nor.
Every. body is someone’s legacy of a uterus.
Confined. to capture, to interrogate, to be worthy of a glass of water.
Ever. since ever it became a womb.
Slowly. patiently. carefully. willingly. consciously.
Slowly. incessantly. repeatedly. bravely. thankfully.
I. longing to encounter the other I worthy of the same.
Tormented tubes called fallopian.
The why plus humanity does not equal the mathematics of love.


My grandmother occupied herself counting stars and naming them: ‘That one by Venus is Ester,’ she told me once. She appeared very far the first time I noticed her. I imagined her way of sensing danger. ‘You knew when she arrived,’ she’d tell me as if her thoughts had migrated thousands kilometres away. Ester was part of a constellation created because her presence amplified my grandmother’s existence and mine.

She unlocked the doors of hate
and I learned how to cook in intimacy
speaking to condiments and spices
thanking them
acknowledging their unleashed power

Sentiments did not require explanations. Like ever. It was in the darkest nights when she shined witnessing how the noises of the war interrupted our breathing. From heavy to heavier and back to holding it to give the lungs a pause. I did not learn much about how she had ended up being my grandmother’s star. My eyes turned to her even after I flee the town. Head up. Chin up. Heart opened.
Ester now lives accompanied with other stars defining and redefining how my neck stretches at night and how it rests in the day. The creation of an infinite space for stars to become whisperers of hope rests in a home made up of roots.

Signs of radicalness

The walls inside the uterus.

A garden populated with teachings of unwritten values.

Remembering the forgotten.

Hoping, hoping, hoping.

Children smiling.

Sustaining presence in the spirit of the where, the when, the how, the why, the who, the what.

Perfecting whatever imperfections adorn us.

Forgiving without forgetting.

Being light in starless spaces.

The glance of an angry lioness defending her cub.

Lifting fallen feathers.

The unevenness of mountains.

Seeking calmness until the last day.

Spiralling generosity in all directions.

The saltiness of a farmer’s sweat.

Retaliate with an empowering walk.

Armed with patience as a sentinel of a forest.

A dissemination of lyrics to honour mother earth.

An empty pain.

A light burden.

An unoccupied throne.

Wonders living in bluish and greenish arteries. Like those surrounding volcanos.

A gentle kiss on sadness.

A quilt with no ends and many beginnings.

Symbiosis as a path to follow.

The What

Radical love is tasking unchoreographed rhythms,

reacting generously for the sake of sharing oxygen with living things,

lifting the spirit to uncharted altitudes where bees store the future,

stimulating the sense of touch in the presence of water,

circling the emerging spiral from our backs,

crafting horizontal narratives for everyone to dive into,

advocating for humanity even when hope is almost gone,

sketching one grain of sand in the archives of our memory,

naming the pains conditioning our hair,

hearing the equations of justice melt in lava.


Radical love requires a cure outside traditional medicine:

Raising compassion instead of hands as commanded by cops.

Shouting testimonies of pain without getting recorded.

Reserving the right to live outside of hate.

Transforming a burden into an untamed light.

Downholding accountability.

Firing in all directing invented constellations of forgotten bodies.

Exposing trajectories of ancestral teachings.

Elevating women to where Ester shines.

Mapping as we walk on new terrains in each gathering.

Shedding tears to fertilise the ground where our seeds will grow.

Starving the fake apologies as they migrate from top to bottom.

Rendering respect to palm trees anchored in shoulder-to-shoulder.

Inhabiting in plurality.

Echoing the song of the leaves in the pulse of loving in action.

Decarcerating ghosts in chains.

Breathing in community with the spirit of resistance.

Soaring within the poetry of ancestral metaphors.

Celebrating the empowerment behind the crawling of others.

Belonging to the humanity found in one single tear.

Introducing the gathering of uplifted voices to eternity.

Spilling fierce touches of compassion in the face of hate.

For all of the above and the untold stories I carry in my heart, I remain in roots.

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Clelia O Rodríguez

Dr. Clelia O. Rodríguez teaches at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression and Pain (2018) (Fernwood Publishing, 2018), and is currently working on a second book titled The Politics of the Uterus.

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